COER Newletter for August 2021

Good Neighbors…
What is a good neighbor?We found this answer on the Internet and it seems about right. “Here are seven key traits that make someone a good neighbor:

  • Friendly. A good neighbor will always try to be friendly, available, and approachable;
  • Quiet. One of the important qualities to look for in a good neighbor is whether they are quiet;
  • Respectful. Good neighbors respect each other;
  • Mature;
  • Helpful;
  • Trustworthy;
  • Tidy (clean). A neighbor must keep their surroundings clean.”

As we begin to enter upon another period of Growler non-stop training at the OLF, let’s see how the Navy on Whidbey stacks up as a good neighbor. They love to claim they are good neighbors, but are they?

Are they friendly, available and approachable? Not so much, as those of you who have received the standard form letters or non-responses can attest. COER and other regional groups, including the SDA, have tried to be included in the Navy community leadership meetings with no success. The Navy won’t even talk to us. Strike one.

What about quiet? STRIKE TWO!!!

Respectful? We don’t think they respect our communities, but let’s pass on this one.

Mature? Penis contrails in our skies. Training during the heat dome. Trolling by their supporters . . . ? Nope! Strike three.

Helpful? We’ll give them this one. They did, after all, pay for water filtration to remove their fire-fighting poisons from our drinking water. Well, sort of.

Trustworthy? We, of course, could write volumes on how the Navy doesn’t honor its word to our communities. There have just been way too many obfuscations, avoidances and outright lies to give them this one. So, no. Strike four!

Clean? Considering the Navy is the single biggest polluter and endangerer of our environment, this is a definite NO! Strike five.

We’ll give them a score of one for, and five against (others might make that six against) being a good neighbor. So what do you think?

Welcome to COER’s inaugural newsletter. In the past we’ve communicated by press releases, blast emails, and letters to the editor, (and, pre-Covid, through in-person get togethers) but we’ve never been able to put out a regular newsletter. Busy as we have been at COER, the community doesn’t always see what we’ve been doing. We’ve even heard some rumors that COER shut down. Which was very surprising to us. We admit that we haven’t done a great job lately of communicating with all of you, but that’s because we’ve been working full-time, actually taking on the Navy. Up until now we haven’t had a volunteer to help us put out regular communications, including a newsletter. So we’d like to introduce you to our new communications editor, John Bruyninckx. With John’s help we hope to do a much better job of telling you what’s been going on in our marathon fight against the Growler. And we want to hear from you. John can be reached at:; or text (no phone calls, please), to: 208-890-8233.

So what have we been up to?

Litigation is a strange creature. Usually the last resort to address problems and grievances, litigation is both dramatic and slow. Hurry up to wait! Our NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) suit, in conjunction with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s, is ongoing. Members of COER’s board and our attorneys have spent the better part of the year drafting pleadings and arguing motions. At times it was a full-time job for us. Both COER and the State of Washington filed extensive Motions for Summary Judgment against the Navy, the Navy filed Responses, we then filed Replies to their Responses, and on August 3rd we received the Navy’s Reply to our Replies (yes, quite the mouthful). Hundreds of pages of pleadings have been filed with the Court. All of which can be found on COER’s website at We are currently reviewing the Navy’s last pleading to see if we need to seek leave to file a response, but it is likely that unless the court itself asks for more, that the pleadings in this case are done. That means the case is ready to go to the Judge (or perhaps his Magistrate first) for consideration. Now we wait again. And oh yes, this case has been extremely expensive. We couldn’t have made it this far without our wonderful donors. Thank you all – you know who you are. As the case continues to proceed we will likely need to ask for more financial assistance. If you can help us fight on … please do!

COER has taken the first step in initiating an Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit against the Navy. The lawsuit addresses newly revealed research indicating noise penetrates down and out from the water surface to depths and expanses not before realized with potentially detrimental impacts on fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. Per a U.S. Fish and Wildlife study, the noise is loud enough and frequent enough to create behavioral modifications that could bring about aborted or delayed attempts to reproduce, feed young and adequately provision themselves, thereby diminishing well-being and increasing risks of disease and predation loss. Fragile populations, like our Southern Resident Orcas, may not be able to withstand the added, yet preventable, losses. COER is hoping the AG will realize the risks and initiate independent legal action. In the meantime we are asking for contributions to our ESA Whale Fund in the event that we have to, and can, go it alone.


Navy noise complaint data lost in glitches
-by Jessie Stensland, Whidbey News Times

Monday, June 28, 2021, 10:45 pm — Separate computer problems at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island resulted in the loss of years of public records and the inadvertent disabling of an email address for citizens to register aircraft noise complaints, resulting in months of messages being lost in the ether of cyberspace.

The problems publicly came to light after the anti-aircraft-noise activist group Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, commonly known as COER, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for telephone and email noise complaints and received a response that some data had been lost.

In an email to the newspaper, a base spokesperson explained that a computer hard drive crash caused the base to lose emails that Navy personnel sent in response to citizens complaints up to October 2020. The complaints themselves were stored separately and backed up.

In August 2020, the base underwent a station-wide computer system upgrade that caused the email address for complaints to be disabled. Although complaints are reviewed each day, the Navy spokesperson reported that it took base personnel six months to realize the email address wasn’t working and that a new address was set up immediately after discovering the problem.

Base officials set up a new comment address,, as well as a phone line, at 360-257-6665, that residents can use to register their concerns, according to the Navy.

The complaints submitted to the address between August 2020 and February 2021 were not received by the base. COER claimed that the Navy knew about the email address problem immediately and didn’t fix the problem until the group complained in February.

“This strange failure of the Navy’s technology and their foot-dragging attention to fixing problems seems to reveal a disingenuous interest in providing reliable communications with the public,” said Bob Wilbur, COER president.

Wilbur estimated that about 7,380 email and voice complaints about noise from the EA-18G Growler aircraft were sent in 2020, although the Navy reports receiving half that. The communities that registered the most complaints were Coupeville, Port Townsend and Oak Harbor, but the Navy also received them from communities as geographically distant as the Olympic Peninsula, La Conner, Anacortes, the San Juan Islands and South Whidbey.

According to the base, the purpose of the noise complaint system is to ensure that aircraft operations comply with FAA regulations and base operating procedures to minimize the effect the noise has on neighboring communities. The EA-18G Growler aircraft, for example, has practice routes described in an Environmental Impact Statement.

See this article in its entirety at:

From the Editor:
Greetings! Since none of you know me, I thought this would be a good time to introduce myself and fill you in on my background as a professional editor and graphic design artist. My name is John Bruyninckx. To answer your first question, that is pronounced Brew-nix. Like when the bartender tells you can’t have another beer, because it’s 2 a.m.After I graduated from high school in Pasadena, CA, I went to work for my father’s business doing design, editing, proofreading and typography for the top advertising agencies in the country, including J. Walter Thompson and Chiat/Day. I was able to turn that into a career in journalism, working for the Pasadena Star News, San Diego Union-Tribune and the Idaho Statesman, among others. In 1994 I started my own weekly paper — The Flagstaff Weekly. Journalists tend to move around. A lot. So, all that experience is what prompted the COER board to ask me to edit the COER newsletter. I am happy to help restore some peace and quiet to the island.Please contact me with information or questions at or text me at 208-890-8233.

To hear much more about what COER has been up to, please join us on August 17 at 6:30 pm for the next COER / SDA Zoom meeting (see flyer at the bottom of this newsletter for details). Email to request the Zoom link.


CLASS ACTION and Other Lawsuits Update:
There are presently two class action lawsuits. One was brought by the Admiral’s Cove residents in 2019, seeking compensation for their diminished ability to enjoy their property.

The other class action, filed at about the same time by a sole individual, Terry Cays, alleges similar claims on behalf of property owners around Ault Field. The Admiral’s Cove case was filed first and is therefore operating as the lead case.

The Admiral’s Cove lawsuit has been progressing through discovery (depositions, exchange of expert reports, etc.) by both sides. The court originally set a deadline to complete discovery by January of this year, but that has been extended several times. Once the court renders a decision and the action is certified, notices will be sent to plaintiffs and other interested individuals wanting to claim damages.

The law firm representing the plaintiffs, Susman and Godfrey, is one of the most prestigious and successful firms in the country. We will keep you posted with new information as it occurs.

Meanwhile, as noted below, the COER/Washington AG NEPA lawsuit against the Navy is proceeding. If successful, this suit may lead to the rolling back of some FCLPs, or moving the Growlers elsewhere.

Not in our parks:
The trial in the legal showdown over military training in state parks between the Whidbey Environmental Action Network (WEAN) and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will be held in Thurston County Superior Court on February 11, 2022. WEAN serves as the non-profit fiscal sponsor for Not In Our Parks.

The lawsuit, filed last March, challenges the 4:3 Parks Commission’s “determination of non-significance” under the State Environmental Policy Act for the covert military training it approved last January. Washington’s environmental law requires that state agencies take a hard look at the impacts their actions will have before they act. The Parks Commission didn’t. This kind of civil legal appeal undergoes an elaborate process before the contesting parties actually argue in court. The Parks Commission must provide the “administrative record” to WEAN, issues about that record must be resolved, and arguments and counter arguments in opening, response, and reply briefs are filed. This process is usually ignored in the TV lawyer dramas, but it’s where the real action happens in civil lawsuits. See more at


COER is busy keeping tabs on the Navy and is looking for Volunteers to help us in our efforts. In particular we need a volunteer to help us in our Social Media efforts and in Fundraising. If you are skillful in those areas, and want to help support your community, please contact COER board member Marianne Brabanski, at

Sound Defense Alliance / COER
Is Jet noise impacting your health and well-being? 
The Sound Defense Alliance and COER
for a Zoom gathering with Whidbey Island residents
  • Be updated on the lawsuits
  • Get specifics about The Roadmap
  • Learn about what YOU can do
  • Have your ideas be heard!
Tuesday, August 17 at 6:30 pm
Bring your favorite beverage
Email to request the Zoom link
Request Zoom link
Sound Defense Alliance
PO Box 373
Coupeville, WA 98239

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